Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer
Born Fi' Dead, American author Laurie Gunst's controversial book about gang violence in Jamaica, has been translated into French. It was recently released in Europe by Thibault Ehrengardt, editor and publisher of the French reggae magazine Natty Dread.
In a recent interview with the unitedreggae.com website, Ehrengardt said the French edition of Born Fi' Dead is part of his company's new Jamaica Insula series.
"We recently launched the series to publish what we consider to be good books about Jamaica - Born Fi' Dead definitely falls into that category," Ehrengardt said.
Ehrengardt's book, The History of Jamaica from 1494 to 1838, is also part of Jamaica Insula.
The Virginia-born Gunst spent several years in Jamaica during the 1980s researching the history of politically aligned gangs, especially in west Kingston where the notorious Shower Posse originated.
Her research resulted in the sensational Born Fi' Dead which was first released in 1995.
Ehrengardt, who is 35, said he read Born Fi' Dead as a teenager. He told unitedreggae.com that the book "allowed me to understand the political dimension of reggae music".
He said the recent stand-off between security forces and gunmen in west Kingston is proof that politicians still have strong ties to gangs in Jamaica.
"Nothing has really changed. Wars in the neighbourhoods carry on. Politicians and gang leaders still give backhanders to their buddies," Ehrengardt said.
Violence erupted in west Kingston in late May when Prime Minister Bruce Golding gave the go-ahead for the area's enforcer, Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, to be extradited to the United States to face charges of arms and drug running. More than 70 civilians and one soldier were killed.
Because Born Fi' Dead allegedly contains libellous stories about former Jamaica Prime Minister and west Kingston Member of Parliament Edward Seaga. The book is not available in Jamaica.
Gunst recently appeared as a contributor to Black Entertainment Television's acclaimed American Gangster series which looked at the Shower Posse's reign of terror in the United States throughout the 1980s.
Ehrengardt started Natty Dread 10 years ago. It is published bimonthly and distributed in Europe.
Because 'Born Fi' Dead' allegedly contains libellous stories about Edward Seaga, the book is not available in Jamaica.